The Inheritors

Will Eaves – William Golding, The Inheritors (1955)

Golding’s second novel was his favourite among his own works, and time has vindicated his choice. Time is also the enemy of the book’s characters: a clan of Mother Earth-worshipping Neanderthals, whose lives are cyclical and seasonal; who share a kind of picture-language that resists explanation, thought process, and motive. They are defenceless against the pale grey-eyed creatures, glimpsed between trees, who hunt and plan. Golding’s technical achievement – to suggest to us, in prose, the force and limit of minds that are poetic but unselfaware – is astonishing. In one scene, the young, increasingly isolated Lok catches an arrow fired towards him, and knows it to be a gift. The Inheritors is itself some sort of relic cry for old humanity, and distressingly beautiful.

Back to the Fantasy Prize collection